A country of contrasts, Germany is a mix of age-old traditions and forward-thinking ideals. It’s also a land blessed with acres of impossibly beautiful countryside dotted with chocolate-box-pretty villages, thick moody forests, romantic river valleys, vast expanses of vineyards, perfectly preserved half-timbered towns and of course not forgetting the stunning splendor of the Alps. From our many trips to this charming European country over the years, here is our collective choice for the most beautiful places to visit in Germany…
Rothenburg ob der Tauber and the Romantic Road
Follow the cobbled streets through the fairytale-esque gate embedded within the city walls and step back into a medieval Europe. This is one of the most beautiful towns located along the famous ‘Romantic Road’ in Bavaria, an attraction that also deserves a place on this list. The road is a picturesque 350km route through the forests and mountains of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. Rothenburg, although small, is packed with interesting sites; the Market Square flanked by 14th-century buildings, the tall Town Hall Tower which has 241 steps leading to one of the most beautiful views over the city and the interesting Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum. When night falls don’t miss the amusing Night Watchman’s Tour!
The Black Forest
A land of cuckoo clocks and cherry gâteaux, this place is so magical it even inspired some of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. It covers a large area within which you’ll find the spa town of Baden-Baden (otherwise known as the “Jewel of the Black Forest”), Freiburg (a vibrant university city) and Offenburg (the capital of the wine region) as well as many other pretty quaint German villages. However, the most attractive part of this area can be seen by driving or hiking along the Schwarzwaldhochstraße – a fantastic high road where you can journey through the rolling hills and valleys, thick forests of black fir trees and mist covered lakes. One of the most beautiful lakes in the area is Titisee, try catching the Zapfle-Bahnle train alone the scenic route around the lake or follow the lake road where you can take in the beauty of the tranquil water.
This stunning iconic image of Germany is, in fact, the former 19th century home of the late Ludwig II of Bavaria (otherwise known as the mad king!) The gorgeous Romanesque building is so fairy-tale esque it inspired the famous Disney castle. Although it’s often overrun with tourists this doesn’t detract from the awe-inspiring beauty of this castle both inside and out. The most picturesque view of the magnificent structure is from Mary’s Bridge, a stop halfway up the hill towards the castle. Make sure you also pay a visit to the lovely Hohenschwangau Castle which is located nearby.
Located in the southeastern portion of Germany and on the border’s of Austria, is the stunning Lake Königssee – Germany’s deepest and cleanest lake. It’s also often hailed as Germany’s most beautiful Alpine Lake, which given the competition is quite an accolade! Bavaria is a particularly scenic place to visit in Germany and this corner of the region has been used for outdoor recreation for centuries – both Bavarian royalty and the local rulers of Berchtesgaden and Salzburg once hunted here. In keeping with its pure and natural surroundings, only electric-powered passenger ships, rowing and pedal boats have been permitted on the lake since 1909.
Located near Potsdam in East Germany, this grand summer palace sits on a large hill. Created for Fredrick the Great of Prussia, it is said to resemble the Palace of Versailles mostly because of the exquisite terraced gardens planted so they cascade beautifully down the slope of the hill. Within the gardens are secluded temples and gazebos and the palace itself is embellished with golden Rococo detail and period 18th-century furnishings.
Located in Bavaria, close to the river Main, is the fine historic city of Bamberg. Its historic city centre is so overflowing with important architecture it has earned itself a UNESCO world heritage site status. Explore the narrow cobbled lanes of the Old Town, the elegant 13th-century cathedral and the town hall which is located on a bridge over the river Regnitz. Wander alongside the meandering streams and then stop for a glass of the local beer in one of the many outdoor beer gardens.
The Rhine Valley
The Rhine Valley is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in Germany. The stunning River Rhine cuts through the Rhenish slate mountains, meandering between hillside castles, sloping fields of wine-producing grapes, Gothic churches, forested hillsides, craggy cliffs and idyllic villages filled with half-timber villages. Hike through the valley trail for spectacular views of mountains, castles, mineral springs and small country inns. The area from Bingen to Koblenz is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to a staggering forty castles and stately homes.
Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. It sits nestled along the River Weser and the small compact city is one of the oldest in Germany, dating back 1200 years. As well as the stunning historic architecture and it’s also famous for inspiring the Grimm’s folklore story of the Musicians of Bremen. In the older part of the city (the Schnoor-Viertel area) make sure you explore the delightful winding cobbled alleyways which are flanked by a series of charming medieval houses which come with wooden beamed facades. The surrounding countryside and farmland are also worth exploring especially along the edge of the river Wümme.
Often forgotten by foreign travellers, the Island of Sylt (part of the German Frisian Islands) is connected to the mainland by the Hindenburgdamm causeway. With several lovely resorts, 40km of sandy beaches, an unusual shoreline and plenty of breathtaking nature, Sylt is well worth a visit and because it’s separated from the mainland it has remained relatively untouched. The houses on the island are built in the delightful Fristian-style and the cliffs lining the coast are slowly eroding which has created an unusual and unique pattern. Fields of flowers, colourful lighthouses and sparsely populated villages have made this an exclusive hidden gem and playground for the rich and famous.
The Harz National Park
The Harz National Park is a lovely nature reserve located in the German federal states of Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. It’s a mountainous region shrouded in mist (or brightly lit by the sun) and filled with lakes, woodland, tales of folklore and plenty of opportunities to be at one with nature. Popular for both walking and skiing, the park also offers botanical gardens, hiking trails and rare flora and fauna. The area is blessed with many species of butterflies and small creatures unique to this area. Make sure you pay a visit to Brocken, the highest mountain in northern Germany which is located in the park. Take a gauge train to the summit to get the most stunning view of the park below.
Of course, it’s impossible to mention all the beautiful places in France in a Top 10 list. Still want more? Then head for the elegant city Munich which is home to the famous annual Oktoberfest, the beautiful Alpine Lake Konstanz, the striking resort town of Monschau, the fine baroque university city of Heidelberg, romantic and beautiful Bamburg, the picturesque medieval German town Quedlinburg, Lübeck the city renowned for its Brick Gothic architecture, the beautifully preserved medieval city of Regensburg, the spectacular scenery of the Rems Valley and the Moselle river which twists and turns along one of Germany’s most beautiful river valleys.